TNP70 Sewit Thomas Jones on Lanaguage and Belonging

42 minutes

Today on the podcast I’m speaking with Sewit who goes by the English name, Thomas Jones. Sewit is a scholar of linguistics and I had the opportunity to learn alongside him at a language revitalization workshop called Where Are Your Keys.

As I mentioned in the previous episode, WAYK is a comprehensive method for revitalizing endangered languages and skills. It uses games, tricks and sign language to essentially “hack” second language learning. It was develop by an American fellow named Evan Gardner as a response to the imminent crisis of language loss that so many indigenous communities across North America are facing as elders and conversant speakers die and forget and culture slips away.

In this episode, Sewit introduces me to the concept of "the borrowed child" as a form of intergenerational connection, a concept I personally find fascinating coming from more of a "latch key kid" kind of upbringing.

He also tells a beautiful origin story from the Snuneymuxw people and shares his thoughts on communal living.

Sewit also mentions two other language learning resources you might want to check out if you're interested:

Chief Atahm

Total Physical Response (TPR)

There is a real urgency to language revitalization because the fluent speakers are dying. Sewit is one of only a small number of latent speakers Snuneymuxw. In the past four years, of the ten fluent speakers he could go to for teaching, six have died.

Sewit does voiceover work and you can hear him speaking hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ in the show, Warrior Games.

Other resources mentioned in this episode:

First Peoples' Language Map of B.C. American Indian Language Development Institute Endangered Language Fund

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